Healthy Lifestyle Ideas

Monday, September 30, 2013

Concert at Chastain Park: What to Expect

We recently went to Chastain Park Amphitheater to see a concert and sat at a table in Section J. It was my first time to Chastain and I was nervous, having never been, so I thought I'd blog about my experience and maybe help someone else's visit be less stressful. Not knowing what to expect was stressful to me.  I worried about what to take for our picnic dinner because I'd heard that some people really go all out bringing nice dinnerware, candles, flowers etc. for the tables. I remembered my mother's edict "it's better to be over-dressed (picnic table-wise I interjected), than under- dressed", so I brought a table cloth, candle, flower arrangement, wine, shrimp cocktail, and other munchies and it was fun.... but I think unnecessary. It's perfectly fine to walk in with just a beverage and a enough glasses for your group and sit down and enjoy the show. If you don't like preparing a fancy picnic basket and hauling stuff in, don't feel pressured to do so. I actually envied those that were sitting in the seats sans tables, who had just eaten out at a nice restaurant and come to just sit and enjoy the show. No work, no fuss and no clean up. Proof of the Pudding Caterers offer pre-made meals to lessen your workload, but there's still the set-up and clean-up work when you eat at the tables.

I'm on the left (looking a little stressed) with my 3 daughters.
Next time here's some things I'll do differently:
  • Take earplugs - if you have tender ears like my two youngest and me. 
  • Bring a blanket for the cooler evening temperatures. We had jackets, but my youngest wanted a blanket. 
  • Bring binoculars if you want to see facial expressions, etc. Couldn't see that from Sec. J
  • They have coffee for sale there, but it would be fun to bring a thermos with a nice hot beverage - possibly spiked?
  • Take cushions for the seats. The seats didn't bother me but my oldest daughter wished for a cushion. 
  • Not worry about getting a table.  Eat out at a restaurant and go and enjoy the show.
I was happy that Chastain Park passed out trash bags, because I'd forgotten to bring one for the clean up. And as for parking, there are areas you can pay for parking ($10), but we easily found a parking spot on the side of the road a block away from the entrance of the amphitheater.  If it had been a packed performance, I'd suggest arriving early. So, go and enjoy hearing wonderful music outdoors (my favorite way to listen to music) and don't worry about keeping up with the Joneses. Anything goes. I hope this helps in some way. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm Finally Healed From Plantar Faciitis

   Plantar fasciitis was excruciatingly painful for me and if you're currently suffering with it - I am so sorry and I hope (and pray) that my story helps you.  I'm sure you've read online that it's an inflammation of the plantar fascia (the connective tissue on the sole of the foot). Wikipedia says it can be caused by an increase in age or weight or activities such as running. I believe that I got mine from an injury to the fascia while using a shovel (wearing flip flops), working in my garden. It took me a long time to heal (over a year) but I'm pretty sure I went through some needless procedures and could have healed quicker if I'd found the solution sooner. 
     I suffered with the pain for a month before going to a podiatrist. The first podiatrist took an x-ray of my feet, gave me shoe inserts and a shot of cortisone in the bottom of the foot and told me it was just something caused by the aging process (I'm not that old) and he said 'don't walk up hills or step on ladders until it's better'.  Huh? After that visit, I knew I wasn't going back. He did give me a special boot to wear at night that helps stretch out the fascia. More about this later.
   After four more weeks of pain, I went for a second opinion to Podiatrist #2. He also gave me a shot of cortisone (which I'll never allow again) but at that point I didn't know what to do differently and since the doctor told me he sees more cases of plantar fasciitis than almost anything else, I figured he could help. He recommended that I go to physical therapy and I thank him for that because at physical therapy is where I found what ended up curing me - an incline board. If you don't know what it is (I didn't), look it up online and order one for yourself. Using it once or twice a week during a therapy session is not enough! There are several companies that make them. My husband made me one (out of some spare lumber he had). You stand on the incline board with the foot that has plantar fasciitis and you will feel the (3) stretch in your calf muscle.   It all boils down to STRETCHING THE CALF MUSCLE. The therapist would spend a lot of time rubbing the fascia tendon on the bottom of my foot and icing it and having me do all sorts of exercises, but it just wasn't getting better after months of therapy. After I got my own incline board and used it daily at home however, I started seeing results and quit the therapy sessions. I don't believe the therapist had any idea that the incline board was so crucial or maybe they just wanted to extend out the therapy sessions. Surely they just don't know or they would have recommended that I buy one... or sell me one. 
     Whenever I stopped stretching on the board for a day or so, I'd feel the twinge of pain come back. So I stretched daily for about 6 weeks (and also wore the special night boot) and finally, no more pain. I'm not sure if the boot is absolutely necessary, but it does help keep it stretched out overnight.
    I recently talked with a neighbor, age 30, who runs extreme long distances, and he said he gets plantar fasciitis periodically too and when he does, he goes for a massage where they rub his ....calf muscle!  What a smart massage therapist!  
   So, good luck and I hope that my experience with plantar fasciitis helps you in some small way (or in a gigantic way!) I wish you the best! Let me know if it helps.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Breakfast Frittata

I love quiche, but for a quick breakfast, a frittata is the way to go!  It's easy to prepare, cooks quickly and is absolutely delicious! The main difference between a quiche and a frittata is that the quiche has a bottom crust and has to bake 30-45 minutes. The frittata cooks very quickly, 9 or 10 minutes total, but sets up and serves as beautifully as a quiche.

I used duck eggs in this fritatta (because I have ducks), but it's usually made with chicken eggs. Frittatas can be as varied as the ingredients you have in your frig. I happened to have some breakfast sausage (left over), onion, a little spinach, fresh cilantro and grated cheese. The variety of the add-in's you can use is endless. Put in what you normally would like to have on an omelet  The only precooking I did on this particular frittata was to sautee' the onions until they were translucent. While sauteing the onions in a little olive oil, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and got the rest of the ingredients.

For chicken eggs, you want to use at least 6 extra large eggs or up to 7-8 smaller eggs.  I whisked the eggs with a splash of milk and added a little salt & pepper. There needs to be enough of the egg mixture to make the frittata as thick as a slice of quiche. I added the egg mixture to my pan of sauteing onions, and crumbled in the sausage, chopped spinach and cilantro. One quick stir of all the ingredients and then I sprinkled on the cheese and let it set for about 4 minutes on med. low heat until the egg mixture was slightly set on the bottom (doesn't move around much on the edges but is still runny on top). You don't stir any more after the initial stir because you want it to begin to 'set up'.  Then the pan is placed into the hot oven for just another 5 minutes or until it's set on top (doesn't jiggle around). And you're done! So quick! Remember to use a pot holder to get the pan out of the oven!

The result was a quick, delicious frittata and my family & I absolutely loved it! The leftovers (if there ever are any) also make a wonderful lunch too. Hope you try a frittata soon. Let me know how you liked it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Welcome Rouen Ducks !

Note to self: "Stay away from The Tractor Supply Store this time of year!" They have baby chicks and baby ducks in February! I stopped by to pick up some duck food and bedding for my two Pekin ducks and heard the irresistible "peep, peep, peep". I couldn't help myself. I looked with the full expectation of walking away and not buying anything "I don't need anymore ducks". But low and behold they had a shipment of black and brown ducklings with a sign that read "Mallard or Rouen". I asked the saleslady which one they were, 'Mallard or Rouen' and the she said 'They're Mallard".  I was so excited. I've always wanted Mallard ducks on the pond near my house so I bought a male and female.  Later, after bringing them home I was researching Mallard ducks on the internet and discovered that I'd actually bought two Rouen ducks, which are a domestic breed that was developed to look like a Mallard. I was a little upset because I had bought them with the understanding that they were Mallards and not another pet duck for my back yard. My backyard is just not big enough for more. My Bermuda grass is about gone and its starting to smell like a chicken pen back there as it is. "I'm taking them back" I told my kids. They responded with a resounding "NO!!! You can't take them back now."  

Above is a picture of them taking their first bath after coming home from The Tractor Supply Store.  I had to admit they were cute and I didn't want to take them back, but I did call the store to tell them: "These ducks are Rouens and not Mallards. Mallard ducks can fly and migrate whereas these Rouens are a domestic duck that have lost the ability to fly".

The above picture shows some of the wear and tear on the Bermuda grass in my back yard. Its quickly becoming a muddy mess. It's caused by me constantly walking to the pen to clean it each day. 

But one good thing has come from having the Rouen ducklings around already and that is the Pekin ducks are now interested in the pond for the first time at the age of 10 months. I was determined to correct my mistakes this time around and get the new ducklings on the pond as soon as possible. My Pekins have NEVER shown any interest in the pond and stay only in my yard, swimming out of a plastic tub each day. When I took the two Rouen ducklings to the pond, the Pekins were very inquisitive, following along and watching. Seeing the baby ducklings in the water was what they needed to feel safe about the pond, I guess. Above is a picture of the Pekins drinking from the pond for the first time and then a few minutes later... 
Gertrude's on the pond. Evie followed and they enjoyed their first bath in the pond. I was so happy. I put their food bowl near the water's edge and have left their normal plastic tubs near the house empty to encourage them to stay at the pond all day. 

Below are the female Rouen on the left, and male on the right. At one week old, they're just a little bigger than the palm of my hand. I'd hoped that the two female Pekin ducks would foster the baby ducklings, but the Pekins won't let them anywhere near them. So I keep them close by me at all times. When I need to be inside the house, I put them in a large open container that's deep enough so they can't jump out. And if the weather is nice, I put them in a secure outside cage.